A Quiet Place proves John Krasinski has serious skill behind and in front of the camera in what will be a sure-fire hit for horror fans.

It’s the 89th day after an apocalyptic event. We, refreshingly, get no unnecessary exposition about what’s happened, but we know whatever has occurred created a desolate world.

It’s here we are introduced to the Abbott family: Evelyn (Emily Blunt); Lee (John Krasinski); and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and Beau (Cade Woodward). As they rummage through an empty and neglected grocery store they are seemingly the only survivors in this town. The key to surviving? They must not make any noise, otherwise they’re attacked by a mysterious creature who is drawn to any foreign sound.

The film fast forwards: the family has gone through drastic changes, and although they’re living on vast farmland, the Abbott’s must remain silent to survive. The film elevates itself above most generic horror films today due to its ingenious premise; since the hook of the film revolves around staying silent, Krasinski focuses on building extreme tension and does so successfully throughout. For an M-rated film (PG-13 in the US), this has some seriously dark and gruesome moments.

What allows Krasinski to maintain this tension is the incredibly tight screenplay written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski himself, based on a story by the former two. Unnecessary exposition would’ve deflated a lot of what makes this film succeed—the silent moments that create atmosphere. By cutting all fat from the script we get a briskly paced thrill ride.

Krasinski also brilliantly balances crowd-pleasing horror scares and artful direction. The cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Fences; The Girl on the Train) is often striking, and truly emphasises the starkness of the landscape the Abbott’s inhabit. There’s also some incredibly inventive sequences—one involving a silo was especially original and brilliantly constructed. Krasinski’s only disappointment was the use of one too many false jump scares, especially when the tension was so ripe at points when the film was just silent. Marco Beltrami’s score isn’t incredibly memorable, but it added to a scene whenever it was implemented.

Often, the most mediocre horror films fall into the trap of having a decent premise which is let down by subpar acting, but A Quiet Place contains some of the best acting I’ve seen in a horror film. Period. Emily Blunt is superb throughout; often typecast as the stern badass in films like Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario—where she plays this role extremely well—it was refreshing and brilliant to see her play such a vulnerable character. She is put through the ringer in this film! As a big fan of The Office it was great to see how strong Krasinski is as a dramatic actor, especially delivering in the more emotionally resonant scenes.Regarding performances in horror films, it’s often the child actors that are the worst. These performances can often diminish the quality of a horror film as they seriously deflate tension and fail to sell the scary moments. But Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are superb, the latter carrying much of the film’s emotional heft. Simmons plays Evelyn and Lee’s daughter, Regan, who is deaf. Interestingly, Simmonds is deaf in real life, and Krasinski insisted on getting a deaf actress to play this role. This was a masterstroke decision because she completely owns in this role.

But it’s the characters that sell the scares. The screenplay’s emotional through line gave us a strong attachment to the Abbott family; achieving this with such minimal dialogue was fantastic and it was elevated by their performances.

Budgeted at $A22 million, it’s middle of the range in comparison to 2017 horror hits Get Out ($A6 million) and It ($A45 million). I’d suggest a fair chunk of this budget went into perfecting the creature of the film. Without going into any specific details about its design, it worked well—even though its CGI certainly looked rubbery at times. When depicted from a far-away distance it looked brilliant—and smartly, Krasinski only teases it throughout the film’s first and second act.

Once the credits hit, it felt like the film had gone for 45 minutes! This is a fast-paced thrill ride which, despite having generic horror beats and one too many false jump scares, is executed with the utmost skill from Krasinski. The film takes full advantage of its enticing premise, and while it wasn’t as subversive as something akin to Get Out, it’s a horror film which delivers brilliant atmosphere, extreme tension and performances worth celebrating.

 

A Quiet Place hits Perth cinemas April 5.